Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta says the coronavirus pandemic will cause a funding gap in the 2020 budget.

JoyNews’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo said the Minister did not give the figure of the expected shortfall when he addressed Parliament Tuesday but indicated that petroleum revenue, tourism and foreign direct investment will be affected.

“Mr Speaker, even though events of the coronavirus is still unfolding, preliminary analysis undertaken by the Ministry of Finance shows that the coronavirus will impact negatively on petroleum receipts due to the collapse of crude oil prices, custom receipts, other receipts, expenditures (especially health-related), and financing conditions on the fiscal front.

“It is affecting tourism, travel and conferences, FDI [Foreign Direct Investment], international trade, food and nutrition, and poverty reduction,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

Since the country recorded six cases of the deadly disease, President Akufo-Addo has assured that his government is on top of the issue and taking all the necessary steps to combat the deadly disease.

According to him, some $100 million have been set aside to fight the virus.

The measures and directives being carried out are expected to put a strain on Ghana’s resources but the Finance Minister says government will rely on the Stabilization Fund, support from the World Bank and others to fill the gap.

“We will come to this august House to seek the necessary approvals in due course. We are currently in discussion with the World Bank to tap into a $12 billion World Bank Group fast track COVID-19 facility to help close the funding gap.”

Mr Ofori-Atta added that government is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund to access part of the $10 billion the Fund has made available to address the coronavirus through the Rapid Credit Facility.

“We are also discussing with other multilateral and bilateral partners on potential assistance to close the financing gap,” he disclosed.

Despite the difficult global circumstances, the Minister said the timely issuance of the $3 billion Eurobond has provided the necessary buffers to support the economy “in these trying times.”

He concluded with a passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 which states “if my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves…I will heal their land.”

“We are confident that with our President’s vision and leadership as well as our discipline as a nation and God’s guiding hands, He shall spare and prosper us, even in trying times,” he concluded.